How can bed bugs get into your home?
Bed bugs are tiny brown bugs that are widespread in every continent where humans live. Scientists found them in human dwellings that are over three thousand years old. But how did these pesky insects manage to spread and pester humans for so long? For an insect that’s about the size of an apple seed, it’s relatively easy to hide in a bag, plush toy, or latch onto clothing without being noticed.
In the past, bed bugs were only found in hotels and other communal living spaces, but they are now increasingly common at residential dwellings, shopping centers, offices, and restaurants. Below, we list 9 common scenarios through which you could end up with a bed bug problem:
Travel accommodations: As we’ve already mentioned, hotels, hostels, and the like are a place where bed bugs reside quite often. They could be hiding in the mattress or the carpet and make their way into your luggage, shoes, or clothing. So, you could end up bringing more than just a few souvenirs from your trip home...
Communal living situations: Students living in dorms, older adults who reside at retirement homes, and anyone living in an apartment building are at a higher risk of getting bed bugs. Bed bugs can spread from one apartment or room into another one through electrical boxes, outlets, and shared spaces like laundry rooms. So, if one of the new residents or someone visiting them brought in a few bed bugs, the entire building may end up having them soon.
Work, retail locations, and public transportation: You don’t have to stay somewhere for a long time to pick up bed bugs. Offices, schools, gyms, shopping centers, clothing stores, and even public transportation like airplanes or buses are all prime locations for bed bugs to congregate.
Furniture: Purchasing vintage or second-hand furniture is an excellent way to refresh your interior in a cost-effective manner, but you must be wary that some pieces could be infested with bed bugs. Although rare, even new furniture that is moved in the same vehicle used to haul away old furniture could become infested.
Yard sales: Don’t get us wrong, we love a good bargain just like the other person, but when you’re purchasing used items, you should always be wary of bed bugs. Even though these pests prefer fabric or fur, they can survive inside electronic appliances, books, shoe boxes, and any dark places where they can hide.
Animals: Humans are not the only victim of bed bugs. Quite often, bed bugs feed on farm animals, especially chickens, as well as your pet cats and dogs. The pests can also live in cat castles, pet carriers, and pet beds, so make sure to inspect these items before you introduce them into your home, especially if you’ve purchased a used item.
Guests: Have family or friends from out of town decided to visit you for a couple of days? Unfortunately, this too can result in a bed bug infestation. Students returning from a dorm for the holidays, as well as friends who took a plane or any other public transportation to get to your home, could arrive with “uninvited guests.”
Bed Bug Prevention Tips
As you can see, these opportunistic pests will take any opportunity to infect a new home, and avoiding all of these potentially dangerous scenarios is often impossible. But is there a way you can protect yourself from an infestation? Yes, bed bug awareness and a few easy prevention tricks go a long way. Here are a few tips for you to consider:
1. When traveling, avoid placing your bags, coats, and suitcases on beds, upholstered furniture, or on the floor. Hanging your clothing so that it doesn’t touch the walls or furniture, and keeping luggage on a stand or cabinet can be helpful. Upon returning home, inspect your luggage and its contents for bugs, wash your clothes, and put them in a hot dryer for 10-15 minutes.
2. When purchasing clothes, stuffed toys, or any textiles, especially second-hand ones, it’s a good idea to wash them first in hot water (122°F or 50°C) or dry them for 10-15 minutes on high heat.
3. Inspect furniture or any second-hand items carefully before bringing them inside your home. Lift the cushions and look closely in-between the seams of upholstered furniture.
4. Steam is a very effective way to eradicate bed bugs and their eggs. If you have a steamer, run it over any items you suspect could be infected. Make sure to hold the steamer as closely to the surface as possible, and repeat in a month, just in case. Read even more on effective ways to deal with bed bugs in the article How to Prevent and Treat Bed Bug Infestations.
Share these useful tips with family and friends!